Friday, April 29, 2011

Epic fail

While small-business owners know they are the backbone of this country, they rarely get the respect they deserve when it comes to gaining access to critical capital they need to stay afloat.

In the past few years, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury have designed programs aimed at getting cash flowing into the hands of small-business owners.

However, it seems these agencies have failed to include a key player in the lending puzzle – the banks – when developing the guidelines for these programs.

Most recently, Congress passed Small Business Lending Fund legislation designed to get $30 billion flowing into the hands of small-business owners. That was seven months ago, and the clock is ticking to get that money into the hands of small-business owners before the one-year authorization expires in September.

About one-third of the community banks that are Subchapter S corporations still haven’t received the applications or terms to even apply for the SBLF program. So far, only 600 community banks have applied for $8.7 billion of the $30 billion available funding.

Many small-business owners who were encouraged by the administration’s commitment two years ago are still wading through the red tape to gain access to this money.

When the SBA rolled out the ARC loan program in 2009, many banks refused to participate because there was no money in it for them to train their staff and comply with the lending guidelines. It became known as a “clunker with cash” for truckers, who couldn’t find a bank willing to participate.

As fuel prices continue to soar, truckers are again looking for that proverbial carrot being dangled in front of them that appears to be just out of reach … again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Timing is all relative

OOIDA has made a strong argument against launching another cross-border trucking program – an argument bolstered by drug-war violence that has only worsened as the DOT has moved forward with its plans.

This past week, we’ve read about the latest mass grave uncovered along the border. In this week’s Houston Chronicle story, as many as 122 of the 177 bodies found in the most recent mass grave discovery were believed to be passengers dragged off of buses at drug cartel roadblocks.

Also in the last week, five beauty parlor workers were brutally murdered in Acapulco.

Sadly, every time we read about the U.S.-Mexico border, the news is getting worse.

News stories that once popped up once every few weeks are occurring daily. The news is getting worse, and more gruesome.

In the last week, the U.S. State Department has released yet another travel warning to U.S. citizens heading to or traveling throughout any part of Mexico. In short, the warning says to stay in tourist areas during daylight hours.

Yes, the same administration that wants U.S. trucks heading south of the border is asking its citizens to stay visible and travel there only in broad daylight.

“According to Government of Mexico figures, 34,612 people have been killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico since December 2006,” the State Department warning reads. “More than 15,000 narcotics-related homicides occurred in 2010, an increase of almost two-thirds compared to 2009.”

Many of those murdered have worked with criminal organizations, but a growing number of victims are innocent bystanders, and even police officers, the State Department says.

So the only upside – if you could call it that – to opening the border today, is that the violence will be worse tomorrow. Is that any sort of justification for putting lives at risk?